Jun 2001: Panama “Cup of Excellence” Auctions, A Matter of Taste

PanamaCup of Excellence” Auctions
The first ever Cup Of Excellence auctions for Panama coffees was held in May and Sweet Maria’s purchased two lots of the 8 winning coffees, including the #1 ranked coffee from Finca Lerida. While some of the farms that were awarded the top 8 spots and inclusion in the auction might be familiar, these specific coffee lots represented the best coffee from the best farms. They were picked and processed beyond the highest standards to compete against the many Panamanian farms that entered the competition. Sweet Maria’s paid the record price for the winning lot, the highest in the auction. And as a model for rewarding cup quality and hard-working coffee farmers, the auction system is incomparable in its success! Please support quality coffee, and try the auction-winning lots.

Finca Lerida Estate Coffee
Lerida Estate is situated in the valley of Boquete in the Northwestern part of Panama. It is surrounded by 500 acres of tropical forest in the slopes of the Baru Volcano.
The farm is situated perfectly for growing top quality coffee: Deep and rich volcanic soil, altitude ranging from 1600 to 1700 meters above sea level, adequate rainfall with a sunny and dry harvesting season, are key factors for the production of crimson red arabica cherries. These cherries are harvested daily and go through a meticulous wet process in Lerida’s unique processing plant. The beans are sundried and set to rest for no less than 60 days.
The four-bag lot purchased by Sweet Maria’s are from batches No.30- 36. The coffee was harvested on January 4- 11, 2001 Fermentation took place from 39-48 hours. The sun-drying process took an average of 11 days per batch. The coffee was judged #1 in cup quality in the 2001 Cup of Excellence competition.

Finca Maurnier Estate
I was able to cup all the 8 award-winning lots at the invitational Panama cupping at the SCAA Annual Conference in Miami. A quick overview of the lots made it clear to me that the original judges had been focused more on piercing high acidity, the quality that gives a cup its bright effervescent nature, rather than body and overall complexity. Acidity, akin to dryness in wine and hops brightness in beer, can make coffees seem one-dimensional though, and the Lerida stood out as the coffee most contrary to the citrusy and acidy character of most of the lots. Yes its bright, but it had a winey-black cherry fruitiness in the cup, more body, and a spicy note in the aftertaste. But there was another coffee in the auction that I fell in love with, finding out later that it was the Maurnier and that it had barely won a spot in the auction at #8. I was surprised! It had less acidity but great depth and finish. It was easily as sophisticated in cup character as the Lerida, but with a full, mellow balance and less acidity overall. I was as determined to get the lot of Maurnier coffee as I was to buy the Lerida, and if you try it at a City roast with a day of resting, I think you will see why! Here are the details:
Region: Boquete, Higher Lands: Vocancito
Altitude: 1500 meters and up
Variety: Typica 40%, Bourbon 15%, Caturra 45%
Process: Continuous washed
Background: Maurnier was a seminal coffee Finca in the Boquete region, now considered the source for the best Panamanian coffees. Monsiur Gilbert Maunier (Mojneeae) married a Boqueteña Lady and moved in to start his own Finca. With his expertise he developed a biodiverse coffee plantation keeping the original shade trees and planting separated lots for each of the three varieties.
When moving to Costa Rica, he sold the Finca to another Boqueteño that eventually sold it to Mr. Plinio Ruiz (who farms other prize-winning lots in the auction). The original Finca philosophy remains the same. The first coffee roasting machine that Mr. Ruiz acquired belonged to Mr. Maunier.

A Matter of Taste
Finding the coffees you like is no easy task, but the reward is great. I hope our Coffee Cupping Reviews* help you select coffees you might like, but it is going to take some experimentation and a few blunders to flesh out your preferences. And coffee presents some special problems; the tastes are subtle and complex compared to other beverages, and the language to describe them unfamiliar.

The most important way to quickly define your tastes is to keep a coffee log. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it could be as simple as tearing the sticker labels off the bags of coffee you like and putting them on a sheet of paper. But keep track of which coffees you liked best and how dark they were roasted when they really impressed you.

When you find a coffee that you really don’t like, consider it a great success! It’s a solid starting point to determine a coffee flavor you don’t like, and which coffees to scratch off your list. Perhaps it is “earthy”. You will find this in Sumatra in the form of musty or earthy flavors, in Ethiopians — but only the dry-processed ones. Look for that word in the cupping reviews and it’s a good clue to avoid that coffee.

Or maybe bright coffees with citrusy acidity are unpleasant to you. Avoid some Kenyas and some “bright” Centrals. The wet-processed Ethiopians like Yirgacheffe are also citrusy. You can see that a taste characteristic is not strictly geographical. If you loved an East African like a Zimbabwe, it doesn’t mean you will love an Ethiopians Harar in the same way, despite them both being African. The difference between Sumatra and Timor is pronounced even though both are Indonesian. Even within a sub-region, primary taste characteristics can be extremely different: a Ugandan is nothing like a neighboring Kenyan. For this reason you find that knowing a little about coffee always seems insufficient given that conventional wisdom is often half-true, and singularities abound!

And remember this: our coffees have character! If it’s a character you like, you’ll be thrilled. If it’s one you don’t, you will know it right away. But that doesn’t mean its a bad coffee. I put a lot of work into cupping coffee from every coffee brokerage I can to find the truly exceptional origins, and from specific lot numbers of the same name to find the best bags. But it’s a committee of one (just me!) that makes cupping decisions. Your results will differ…

Sweet Maria’s Coffee
9 E. 2nd Ave Columbus Ohio 43201
web: www.sweetmarias.com
email: [email protected]

Sweet Marias Green Coffee Offerings on 5/29/01:
This list is always superceded by the current list on our web page! PANAMA auction winners: available June 5. http://sweetmarias.com/prod.greencoffee.shtml
Central American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Costa Rican Dota Conquistador $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Costa Rican La Minita Tarrazu $7.10 $13.49 $31.60 $113.60
Costa Rican Tarrazu-Tres Rios $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Guatemalan Antigua -Bella Carmona $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Guatemalan Finca El Injerto ’01 $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Guatemalan Org. Atitlan -La Voz Co-op $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
Guatemalan Organic Huehuetenango ’01 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Mexican Organic -Finca Las Chiapas $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Mexican Oaxaca Pluma -El Olivo Farm $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Mexican Org. San Augustin Loxicha $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Mexican Oaxaca San Pablo Becafisa $4.60 $8.74 $20.01 $70.84
Nicaragua SHG La Illusion ’01 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
South American 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Brazil Organic -Blue de Brasil $4.90 $9.31 $21.32 $75.46
Brazil Auction Winner-Sitio Sao Joao $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 5 lb limit
Brazil Cerrado-Monte Carmelo $4.20 $7.98 $18.27 $64.68
Colombian Popayan Supremo $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Colombian Medellin Excelso Bolivar $4.50 $8.55 $19.58 $69.30
Colombian Tuluni Supremo 18+ $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Peru Org/FT Chanchamayo La Florida $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
African- Arabian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Ethiopian Harar Horse Gr.5 ’01 $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Gr.2 ’01 $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Kenya AA Eaagads Farm ’01 $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
Kenya Peaberry ’00 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Tanzanian Northern Peaberry 00-01 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Uganda Organic Bugisu A $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Yemen Mokha Mattari $7.00 $13.30 $30.45 $112.00
Yemen Mokha Raimi (Rimy) $6.90 $13.11 $30.02 $110.40
Yemen Mokha Sanani ’01 $7.00 $13.30 $30.45 $112.00
Zimbabwe AA+ -Lynwood Estate $5.30 $10.07 $23.06 $81.62
Indonesian- Indian 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Indian Monsooned Malabar AA $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Aged Java – Old Brown ’97 $6.20 $11.78 $26.97 $95.48
Java Govt. Estate Blawan $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Papua New Guinea Mile High Estate $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Papua New Guinea Organic AA $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Sulawesi Toraja Gr.1 00 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Sumatra Lintong Grade 1 ’01 $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Sumatra Mandheling DP Gr.1 ’01 $4.75 $9.03 $20.66 $73.15
Sumatra Lake Tawar 18+ $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16
Sumatra Organic Gayoland ’01 $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Aged Sumatra Pwani Mandheling $6.00 $11.40 $26.10 $92.40
Aged Sumatra Mandheling ’98 $6.20 $11.78 $26.97 $95.48
Timor Organic Maubese 00-01 $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
Islands- Blends -Etc. 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Hawaii Kona XF-Purple Mountain Farm $15.90 $30.53 $73.94 $279.84
Maui Kaanapali Moka ’01 $11.20 $21.50 $52.08 n/a
Hawaii Molakai Malulani ’01 $6.90 $13.11 $32.09 n/a
Puerto Rican Yauco Selecto AA $10.90 $20.71 $50.69 n/a
Isle of Saint Helena ’01 Crop $23.30 $44.74 n/a n/a
SM’s Moka Kadir Blend $5.80 $11.02 $25.23 $89.32
SM’s Espresso Monkey Blend $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
SM’s Classic Italian Espresso Blend $4.80 $9.12 $20.88 $73.92
SM’s Decaf Espresso Blend $5.70 $10.83 $24.80 $87.78
SM’s French Roast Blend $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Malabar Gold Espresso Blend $6.00 $11.40 $26.10 $92.40
Decafs 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Brazil Santos SWP Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16
Colombian MC Decaf $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Colombian CO-2 Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Costa Rican SHB Natural Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe MC Decaf $5.50 $10.45 $23.93 $84.70
Guatemalan SHB Natural Decaf $5.10 $9.69 $22.19 $78.54
Indonesian Komodo Blend Org SWP D $6.10 $11.59 $26.54 $93.94
Kenya MC Decaf -German KVW $5.25 $9.98 $22.84 $80.85
Mexican Esmeralda Natural Decaf $4.70 $8.93 $20.45 $72.38
Sumatra Mandheling Natural Decaf $5.40 $10.26 $23.49 $83.16
Sumatra Org.GayoMtn SWP Decaf $6.30 $11.97 $27.41 $97.02
Premium Robustas 1 lb 2 lb 5 lb 20 lb
Indian Kaapi Royale Robusta $5.00 $9.50 $21.75 $77.00
Indian Monsooned Robusta AA $5.20 $9.88 $22.62 $80.08
Java Washed Robusta $4.30 $8.17 $18.71 n/a

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